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March 07, 2003

Postmodern Fairy Tales


My almost-two-year-old son is fixated on “The Three Little Pigs.” He walks around growling and making blowing sounds, and then doing cute little pig grunts while wrinkling his nose. Clearly something about the danger and violence first set into motion by the Big Bad Wolf (and his house-destroying breath) and then resolved by the triumphant if deadly cunning of the last Little Pig is clicking with his emotions. He has made my wife go over the story over and over with him for the past week.

Thinking to help resolve his issues with the story, my wife made a trip to the book store and picked up a handsomely illustrated volume by a D. Wiesner, entitled “The Three Pigs.” When she got home and read it to him, she was startled to find that rather than the standard version of the story, she had picked up a Postmodern fairy tale.

The Pigs Exit the Story

In this version, the Wolf’s breath is so fierce that the first Little Pig is blown clean out of the story—thus saving his life. Said pig scurries ahead of the wolf and convinces his brethren to exit the tale as well. They end up in a sort of meta-museum of illustrated children’s stories, which they can enter and exit at will, wandering through “Hey Diddle Diddle” and some medieval adventure story, in the course of which they recruit both the Cat (and the fiddle) and a dragon to their story-hopping crew. Finally they decide to return to their own narrative, where the dragon makes quick work of the extremely surprised wolf. Everyone, except the wolf, lives happily ever after in the cosy brick pig house.

All fairly amusing, but I must report that my son was having none of this. Not only did he find this version confusing, but it quickly became apparent to him that whatever emotional juice he was looking for in the story had apparently leaked out with the punctured narrative. He shortly pushed “The Three Pigs” aside and has steadfastly ignored it since, preferring a crudely illustrated version of the original (which I have now read to him at least 100 times.)

Apparently when confronting primal fears and fundamental questions, it’s better to take your medicine straight.



posted by Friedrich at March 7, 2003


"Apparently when confronting primal fears and fundamental questions, it’s better to take your medicine straight."

Posted by: acdouglas on March 7, 2003 1:51 AM

I'm not necessarily after over the top postmodern stuff such as this, which is good for a laugh. However are there any new Faery Tales that do have the depth ie. "...confront primal fears and fundamental questions e.t.c" that deal with modern concepts, contexts and new perspectives? That encourage the imagination to explore revolutionary concepts, deepecological perceptions, non-hierarchical structures, gender awareness e.t.c I'm tired of kings and queens, anthropocentric humans and capitalist fundamentalism, so whats new in the quality present day or 21st
century faery tale genre?

Posted by: Selo on August 19, 2003 3:02 AM

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